As Josh Allen prepares to face off with Lamar Jackson on Saturday, he's a player that may understand the pressures that Jackson has faced more than some.
Both were quarterbacks taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, in which their respective teams traded up to grab them. That led to tough criticism as many were quick to point out the holes in their games. Yet, both overcame the adversity and are thriving in the NFL. Jackson was the league MVP in 2019 and Allen has made a case to win the award in 2020. More importantly, both have their teams on the cusp of an AFC Championship berth.
On Tuesday, Jackson shared his admiration for Allen, saying he is "slingin’ the ball, like a Patrick Mahomes." Allen returned the favor, noting that he has respect for what Jackson does on and off the field.
“I tell this to everybody I talk to about him — he is one of the greatest dudes you can be around. He really is,” Allen said. “And for him to kind of have the adversity of coming out the first year and people doubted him, and then go out and explode on the scene last year and just be this dynamic quarterback. You see the impact that he makes in his communities on Instagram and stuff like that. He’s just one of those special guys. Obviously, they’ve been having success, he’s had a lot of success early in his career.
Knowing that Jackson also faced criticism and doubters early in his career, Allen has made sure to keep tabs on his success in the NFL. Seeing what Jackson has done for his team and the game, he's not just enjoying it from the perspective of a quarterback, but as a fan as well.
“I root heavily for him, just knowing what he went through his first year, how he’s been able to do it, and how humble, how awesome he is off the field," Allen said. "He’s just one of those guys you root for."
His appreciation for Jackson is so strong, that come Saturday in the most crucial game of the season, he'll have to remind himself not to clap on the sidelines should Jackson do something spectacular.
"And it’s hard to not root for him when we’re playing against him. But we’re enemies on Saturday, and we both know that," Allen said. "But he’s just one of those guys, again, I can’t say enough about just how good of a dude he is and it makes you love him that much more on the field.”